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Surviving Your Family Reunion

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
July 31, 2023
July 31, 2023

Family reunions can be exciting events, with jokes, games, and reminiscing. But they can also be stressful, especially if there are underlying tensions or conflicts within the family, or even family members with very off-color personalities. I have seen many people struggle with anxiety and depression while navigating these uncomfortable gatherings. Here are eight tips on how to survive a difficult family reunion:

  1. Set realistic expectations: Recognize that not everyone in the family will get along, and that's okay. Instead of hoping for a perfect reunion, focus on enjoying the time you have with those you do get along with and set realistic goals for interactions with those who may be more challenging.
  2. Practice self-care: Prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or taking a break from the family gathering to recharge. It’s essential to take care of yourself physically and emotionally during the reunion.
  3. Plan ahead: Create a plan for how you will handle potentially difficult interactions. This could involve setting boundaries or practicing mindfulness techniques to stay calm during tense moments.
  4. Stay neutral: Avoid taking sides or getting involved in family drama. Instead, try to remain neutral and focus on maintaining a positive relationship with everyone.
  5. Connect with supportive family members: Reach out to family members who are supportive and can provide a listening ear or a distraction from difficult interactions.
  6. Manage your alcohol intake: While sometimes during these events you may feel you need a stiff drink, try to limit or avoid alcohol altogether. It can impair your judgment and lead to impulsive or regrettable behavior.
  7. Focus on positive conversations: Shift conversations towards positive topics, such as hobbies, travel, or shared interests, to keep the mood light and enjoyable.
  8. Practice gratitude: Take time to appreciate the good moments and the positive aspects of the reunion. Gratitude can help shift your focus from negative to positive experiences.

Takeaways

Remember, family reunions can be challenging, but they can also be an opportunity to connect with loved ones and create new memories. By setting realistic expectations, prioritizing self-care, planning ahead, staying neutral, connecting with supportive family members, managing alcohol intake, focusing on positive conversations, and practicing gratitude, you can survive a difficult family reunion and make the most of your time with your loved ones.

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